As TAJ’s membership, vision, and impact grows, so does our team. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the next two Amos Walker TAJ Fellows, Chantel Pridgon (of the Austin TAJ Chapter), and Sybil Sybille (of the Houston TAJ Chapter). This fellowship, which builds the leadership of formerly incarcerated people and their families, is named in memory of Amos Walker, a beloved TAJ member and community leader from Houston.
Sybil Sybille is a native Houstonian who grew up in Riverside Terrace, which is Third Ward now and commonly called the Midtown area. She went to High School for Health Professions, Jack Yates, and TSU for a while. A nerdy kid, she was the one who had a briefcase, not a backpack. Sybil’s family is one with strong spiritual beliefs, and a commitment to education, people and relationships.
She was raised in a family of hard workers. Sybil’s mother was a beautician who owned her own salon, and was active in the community. “I was fortunate enough to have two fathers,” Sybil said. “My paternal father worked for the Railroad. My gained father was an entrepreneur, he was a chef, an awesome one at that. He taught me to value hard work.”
Sybil became an entrepreneur and runs a company called Sybillionaires, where she provides services in peer support, recovery, education, public speaking, and wellness.
About her newest role as a TAJ Fellow, she offered this reflection on her experience leading her here. “I’m humbled and excited to be the Amos Walker Fellow in the TAJ Houston Chapter. I know first hand the struggle, the fight, and the frustration of being identified as a number and not a human being called by my name,” Sybil said. “Every human being deserves to be treated with respect, dignity and mutuality. My lived experience and training as Recovery Coach, Veterans Peer Support Specialist, and BEITZ (Bring Everyone In The Zone) Facilitator enables me to effectively communicate with all people. No matter the challenges of reclaiming our names, our dignity, and acceptance of the stigma attached to incarceration I will be a voice for those who cannot speak.”
Chantel Pridgon is originally from Austin, Texas and in 2005, received her Bachelor's of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Prairie View A&M University, in Prairie View, Texas. Chantel then spent 15 years as an educator. Over the years, life happened and Chantel became a directly impacted person and her passion for criminal justice reform was ignited. Chantel became a member of TAJ in 2018, when her cousin told her about the organization and she immediately took interest because of her frustrations with an unjust system towards people of color were at an all time high. Chantel went in head first volunteering her time, protesting at the Affordable Housing conference for Homes Not Handcuffs, and campaigning for the Freedom City Policy Initiative in Austin by sharing her story.
Chantel has learned that nothing happens overnight, everything is a process. Fighting the system is a battle that must be taken on by a collective and that motivates her to endure to the end.
In her role, Chantel will be working alongside those directly impacted to transform the systems that criminalize communities. “I am extremely excited about this opportunity to help advocate change in our criminal justice system,” Chantel said. “This cause is very dear to my heart because black and brown people are victimized daily by a system that is not willing to change the vicious cycle of disproportionate mass incarceration, non existent rehabilitation/treatment centers and overall unjust for us. I have been directly impacted and indirectly impacted but now I am a voice to the voiceless. I hope that my relationship with TAJ will help me become a better leader and ignite flames in others to be involved in social justice organizations.”